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Tue, 19th Aug 2014

Our leaky ancestor

A Hydrothermal Vent (c)  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Going back through the generations, eventually you come to the ancestor of all life on earth, something scientists call LUCA (last universal common ancestor).

LUCA lived on a hydrothermal vent deep under the ocean, and probably used energy from the natural acidic gradient to survive and reproduce, using a generator called ATP-synthetase. But now Victor Sojo and his colleagues at UCL have come up with an explanation for what might have gone on, suggesting LUCA has a leaky membrane, which might explain some mysteries surrounding bacteria and archea. Kat Arney asked Victor how this leaky membrane might have evolved.

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